Editorial | The problem with anti-litter law enforcement
Political parties have a responsibility to see that election paraphernalia such as flags, billboards, and posters are promptly removed when election campaigning is over and done with.
It is traditional that during campaign season, communities are flooded with various forms of advertising, including signs and billboards. As it stands now, more than three weeks after the election, some of these signs remain in various communities. They have ceased to be advertising tools. Instead, a tattered piece of cloth, be it orange or green, is nothing more than an eyesore. What we have is a contest between the right to advertise and community aesthetic.
This has not missed the attention of Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown, who has asked that the parties have their paraphernalia removed. We believe that in the future, it may be wise to get the competing candidates to commit, in writing, that they will ensure that the advertising signs are removed after elections.
Frankly, it was almost comical to listen to the response of the newly appointed state minister in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Homer Davis, when he was engaged on the subject in recent media interviews. A small step away from wringing his hands, Mr Davis appeared not too sure how he could get his colleagues to do the right thing. He said he was relying on moral suasion and promised that he may get serious later on.
How hard can it be to get the guilty parties to comply? After all, there are only two major political parties, and the billboards are advertisements for specific candidates. If the local government ministry is looking for ideas, we have one: remove the paraphernalia and send a bill to the relevant party leader, since there is always a cost involved in clearing up debris.
Thankfully, Mr Davis’ menu of responsibility is far more interesting than removing party flags. His responsibilities include rural water, electricity, parochial roads, and the operations of the municipal police.
LITTERING OUT OF CONTROL
We want to call attention to littering, which, we assume, is within the remit of the municipal police. Littering is out of control in many communities. Mr Davis faces a daunting task to bring it under control. The case for paying specific attention to littering and garbage pile-up is enhanced in light of reports that dengue is gaining ascendency in some CARICOM countries. More alarming are reports out of India, where two hospitals have recently reported that patients have been afflicted by COVID-19 and dengue or malaria.
We are in the season for mosquito-transmitted diseases, and rotting garbage provides a breeding ground for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.
With the surge in coronavirus cases and increased hospitalisations, Jamaica would be hard-pressed to contain a dengue outbreak at this time. So there has to be rigorous enforcement of the anti-litter law and a more agile response from the municipal waste-management agencies to garbage collection.
By bringing back to the table the need for strong enforcement, we are returning to a well-ploughed field, having suggested over and over that Jamaica, a country with so many relevant laws, could work so much better if we could only find the pathways to enforcement.
In Mr Davis, we have new eyes. We also have someone who has shown some competencies in city management. Let us hope he will take a fresh approach to municipal management.